I am quite a fan of researching a role. By that I mean getting into the nature of what a character's position is not only in the play, but in the society the play is based in.
This makes for some research that is far more in depth than many actors I know would bother with. Unless detailed knowledge is required for performing the role, some do not bother to know more than the script itself. That is fine for most, but not for me. As far as I am concerned, any little detail or tidbit of information one learns in research can contribute to a performance.
So I was doing a little bit of simple research on what a purser does on a cruise ship. I came across this rather useful description. It was designed to help those interested in pursuing a career as a purser understand the nature of the position. Yet I found it to be a small gold mine for me as an actor as well. (Particularly the part which describes the type of person a purser should be. )
Is that handing ideas to an actor on a platter or what?
I call them "character seeds"; tiny pieces of information about real life pursers than I can use, and allow to evolve into character traits, or even quirks. When I play a main character who dialogue and story are strong enough, I require fewer such seeds, though I still use them. A supporting part like this one opens up a greater chance to make use of such seeds. While I will not use all of the information in the article, the information has already made me think of some ideas.
Hat Watch continues. No word yet. But tell me I would not look just as good as this gentleman in a similar hat. That is what I am talking about.
As for rehearsal tonight (3/1/06), I did not end up getting off book today. Turns out it is my longest scene. But I can feel "off book" on the horizon already. We have two weeks to be off book. I am there.